« FöregåendeFortsätt »
wonder and adoration of his great and glorious name for his tender mercies !— Dear Sir, I beg you will pray for him, who is not worthy to be a doorkeeper to the least of my Master's servants.
“ John Evans."*
66 October 10, 1745. * RevereND SIR, I shall acquaint you with the Lord's dealings with us since April last. We marched from Ghent to Alost on the 14th, where I met with two or three of our brethren in the fields, and we sung and prayed together, and were comforted. On the 15th, I met a small company about three miles from the town, and the Lord filled our hearts with love and peace. On the 17th, we marched to camp near Brussels. On the 18th, I met a small congregation on the side of a hill, and spoke from those words, • Let us go forth, therefore, to Him without the camp, bearing his reproach. On the 28th, I spoke from those words of Isaiah, • Thus saith the Lord concerning the house of Jacob : Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. On the 29th, we marched close to the enemy, and when I saw them in their camp, my bowels moved towards them, in love and pity for their souls. We lay on our arms all night. In the morning, April 30, the cannon began to play at half an hour after four; and the Lord took
all fear from me, so that I went into the field with joy. The balls few on either hand, and men fell in abundance ; but nothing touched me till about two o'clock. Then I received a ball through my left arm, and rejoiced so much the more. Soon after, I received another into my right, which obliged me to quit the field. But I scarce knew whether I was on earth or in heaven : It was one of the sweetest days I ever enjoyed.
WILLIAM CLEMENTS." “ LEARE, near ANTWERP, October 21, 1745. 6 REVEREND Sır,--Since I wrote to you last, I have gone through great trials.
It was not the least, that I have lost my dear brother Clements for a season, he being shot through both the arms. me farther, J. Evans and Bishop were both killed in the battle, as was J. Greenwood soon after. Two more, who spoke boldly in the name of Jesus, are fallen into the world again. So I am left alone : But I know it is for my good. Seeing iniquity so much abound, and the love of many wax cold, adds wings to my devotion, and my faith grows daily as a plant by the water-side.
“ The Lord has been pleased to try our little flock, and to show them his mighty power." Some days before the late battle, one of them, standing at his tent door, broke out into raptures of joy, knowing his departure was at hand, and was so filled with the love of God, that he danced before his comrades. In the battle, before he died, he openly declared,
I am going to rest from my labours in the bosom of Jesus. I believe, nothing like this was ever heard of before, in the midst of so wicked an army as ours. Some were crying out in their wounds, • I am going to my Beloved ! others, Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! and many that were not wounded, were crying to their Lord to take them to him5* He continued both to preach and to live the Gospel till the battle of Fontenoy. One of his companions saw him there, laid across a cannon, (both his legs having been taken off by a chain shot,) praising God, and exhorting all that were round about him; which he did, till his spirit returned to God.
self. There was such boldness in the battle among this little despised flock, that it made the officers, as well as common soldiers, amazed ; and they acknowledge it to this day. As to my own part, I stood the fire of the enemy for above seven hours. Then my horse was shot under me, and I was exposed both to the enemy and our own horse. But that did not discourage me at all ; for I knew, the God of Jacob was with me. I had a long way to go, the balle flying on every side ; and thousands lay bleeding, groaning, dying, and dead on each hand. Surely I was as in the fiery furnace, but it never singed one hair of my head. The hotter it grew, the more strength was, given me. full of joy and love, as much as I could well bear. Going on, I met one of our brethren with a little dish in his hand, seeking for water. He smiled and said, "he had got a sore wound in his leg.' I asked, “ Have you got Christ in your heart?' He answered, • I have, and I have had him all the day. Blessed be God, that I ever saw your face.' Lord, what am I, that I should be counted worthy to set my hand to the Gospel plough? Lord, humble me, and lay me in the dust!
“ John Haime."
The work in England now extended with a rapidity, which far exceeded the expectations of the most sanguine. For some years the Preachers moved round the kingdom, as Mr. Wesley thought best, from time to time, without any regular plan. But he now found it absolutely necessary to divide the whole work into Circuits, appointing so many Preachers to each Circuit. This plan was attended with many
difficulties, and it seemed at first that the unity of the body could not be preserved, on account of the clashing interests of the Circuits. But a remedy was soon found out for this threatening evil, viz., to summon annually a considerable number of the Preachers in order to consult together concerning the affairs of the Societies. The Preachers, thus met with him at their head, he termed The Conference ; which name is now so familiar among the people, that The Conference is always understood to mean the body of Preachers thus annually assembled. His design in calling them together, was not merely for the regulation of the Circuits, but also for the review of their doctrines and discipline, and for the examination of their moral conduct ; that those who were to minister with him in holy things, might be thoroughly furnished for every good work, for the saving of their own souls as well as them that heard them.'
In treating on so essential a part of the discipline established by Mr. Wesley, as the annual Conferences, from which infinite blessings, through the grace of God, have been derived, not only in the government and union of the whole connexion, but in the preservation and enforcement of purity and holiness among the Preachers; I shall be necessarily obliged to speak of many things, with which several of my readers are already acquainted. But it is not possible to give a complete view to the world of that great work, in which Mr. Wesley was the principal instrument, without enlarging on so important a branch of it. For which purpose I shall give the most remarkable Conversations which passed in these Conferences, especially in the earliest of them, when the grand points in respect both to doctrines and discipline were laid down, methodised, and established; which have continued unshaken even to the present day.
LONDON, 25th of June, 1744. It is desired, that all things be considered as in the immediate presence of God: That we may meet with a single eye, and as little children, who have every thing to learn : That every point which is
proposed, may be examined to the foundation : That every person may speak freely whatever is in his heart: And that every question which arises, may be thoroughly debated and settled.
Q. 1. Need we be fearful of doing this ? What are we afraid of? Of overturning our first principles ?
A. If they are false, the sooner they are overturned the better. If they are true, they will bear the strictest examination. Let us all pray for a willingness to receive light, to know of every doctrine, whether it be of God. *
Q. 2. How may the time of this conference be made more eminently a time of watching unto prayer?
A. 1. While we are conversing, let us have an especial care to set God always before us. 2. In the intermediate hours, let us redeem all the time we can for private exercises. 3. Therein let us give ourselves to prayer for one another, and for a blessing on this our labour.
Q. 3. How far does each of us agree to submit to the judgment of the majority ?
A. In speculative things, each can only submit so far as his judgment shall be convinced; in every practical point, each will submit so far as he can without wounding his conscience.
Q. 4. Can a Christian submit any farther than this, to any man, or number of men, upon earth ?
A. It is plain, he cannot; either to Bishop, Convocation, or General Council. And this is that grand principle of private judgment, on which all the Reformers proceeded : “Every man must judge for himself; because every man must give an account of himself to God.”
CONVERSATION II. The design of the meeting was proposed, namely, to consider1. What to teach. 2. How to teach. And 3. What to do ; i. e. How to regulate our doctrine, discipline, and practice. They began with considering the doctrine of Justification : The questions relating thereto, with the substance of the answers given, were as follow:
Q. 1. What is it to be justified ?
A. To be pardoned, and received into God's favour ; into such a state, that, if we continue therein, we shall be finally saved.
Q. 2. Is faith the condition of justification?
A. Yes ; for every one who believeth not, is condemned ; and every one who believes, is justified.
Q. 3. But must not repentance, and works meet for repentance, go before this faith ?
A. Without doubt : If by repentance you mean conviction of sin; * Could any work, that was not of God, endure such an ordeal as this? Surely it is the Lord who maketh men to be thus of one mind in a house!
and by works meet for repentance, obeying God as far as we can, forgiving our brother, ceasing to do evil, doing good, and using the ordinances according to the power we have received.
Q. 4. What is faith?
A. Faith in general is, a divine supernatural EasyX05* of things not seen ; i. e. of past, future, or spiritual things : It is a spiritual sight of God and the things of God.
First, a sinner is convinced by the Holy Ghost, Christ loved me, and gave himself for me. This is that faith by which he is justified or pardoned, the moment he receives it. Immediately the same Spirit bears witness, “ Thou art pardoned: Thou hast redemption in his blood.” And this is saving faith, whereby the love of God is shed abroad in his heart.'
Q. 5. Have all Christians this faith? May not a man be justified and not know it?
A. That all true Christians have such a faith as implies an assurance of God's love, appears from Rom. viii, 15, 16; Eph. iv, 32; 2 Cor. xiii, 5; Heb. viii, 10—12; 1 John iv, 13, and v, 19.
And that no man can be justified and not know it, appears farther from the nature of the thing. For faith after repentance is ease after pain, rest after toil, light after darkness. It
also from the immediate as well as distant fruits thereof.
Q. 6. But may not a man go to heaven without it?
A. It does not appear from holy writ, that a man who hears the Gospel, can, Mark xvi, 16, whatever a heathen may do, Rom. ii, 14.
Q. 7. What are the immediate fruits of justifying faith?
A. Peace, joy, love ; power over all outward sin, and power to keep down inward sin.
Q. 8. Does any one believe, who has not the witness in himself, or any longer than he sees, loves, and obeys God?
A. We apprehend not ; seeing God being the very essence of faith ; love and obedience the inseparable properties of it.
Q. 9. What sins are consistent with justifying faith?
A. No wilful sin. If a believer wilfully sins, he casts away his faith. Neither is it possible he should have justifying faith again, without previously repenting.
Q. 10. Must every believer come into a state of doubt, or fear, or darkness ? Will he do so, unless by ignorance or unfaithfulness? Does God otherwise withdraw himself?
A. It is certain, a believer need never again come into condemnation. It seems, he need not come into a state of doubt, or fear, or darkness ; and that (ordinarily at least) he will not, unless by ignorance or unfaithfulness.
Yet it is true, that the first joy does seldom last long; that it is commonly followed by doubts and fears ; and that God frequently permits great heaviness before any large manifestation of himself
. Q. 11. Are works necessary to the continuance of faith?
A. Without doubt; for a man may forfeit the free gift of God, either by sins of omission or commission.
Q. 12. Can faith be lost, but for want of works?
* Conviction or Evidence. Vol. II.
A. The more we exert our faith, the more it is increased. "To him that hath shall be given.'
Q. 14. St. Paul says, Abrahain was not justified by works. Sto James, · He was justified by works.' Do they not contradict each other?
A. No: 1. Because they do not speak of the same justification. St. Paul speaks of that justification, which was when Abraham was seventy-five years old, above twenty years before Isaac was born. St. James, of that justification which was when he offered up Isaac on the altar. 2. Because they do not speak of the same works : St. Paul speaking of works that precede faith : St. James, of works that spring from it.
Q. 15. In what sense is Adam's sin imputed to all mankind ?
A. In Adam all die, i. e. 1. Our bodies then became mortal. 2. Our souls died, i. e. were disunited from God. And hence, 3. We are all born with a sinful, devilish nature : By reason whereof, 4. We are children of wrath, liable to death eternal, Rom. v, 18; Eph. ii, 3.
Q. 16. In what sense is the righteousness of Christ imputed to all mankind, or to believers ?
A. We do not find it expressly affirmed in Scripture, that God imputes the righteousness of Christ to any :* Although we do find, that · faith is imputed to us for righteousness.
That text, ' As by one man's disobedience, all men were made sinners ; so by the obedience of one, all were made righteous,' we conceive means, by the merits of Christ all men are cleared from the guilt of Adam's actual sin.
We conceive farther, That through the obedience and death of Christ, 1. The bodies of all men become immortal after the resurrection. 2. Their souls receive a capacity of spiritual life ; and, 3. An actual spark or seed thereof. 4. All believers, become children of grace, reconciled to God ; and 5. Are made partakers of the divine nature.
Q..17. Have we not leaned towards Antinomianism?
A. 1. That Christ abolished the moral law. 2. That therefore Christians are not obliged to observe it. 3. That one branch of Christian liberty, is liberty from obeying the commandments of God. 4. That it is bondage, to do a thing because it is commanded, or forbear it because it is forbidden. 5. That a believer is not obliged to use the ordinances of God, or to do good works. 6. That a preacher ought not to exhort to good works : not unbelievers, because it is hurtful; not believers, because it is needless.
Q. 1. Is a sense of God's pardoning love absolutely necessary to our being in his favour? Or may there be some exempt cases ?
* That is, his personal righteousness : This is the great Antinomian error. But the divine atonement, with its glorious concomitants, may be called his righteousness; and may be said to be imputed to believers, as it was wrought for guilty man, and by the merit of it only can he be justified.